Redevelopment of the storied Channel Nine television studios in the northern Sydney suburb of Willoughby will unlock a prized hilltop site that has been closed to the public for more than 60 years, connecting new residents and the community via outstanding new public domain and high-quality architecture.
Through design excellence, the masterplan reimagines density living with sensitivity and inclusion, harnessing the site’s unique hilltop topography, natural environment and views, while respecting the existing low-scale suburban streetscape.
A competition-winning masterplan design by CHROFI, collaboratively documented by Mirvac Design, will deliver 445 apartments across 10 residential buildings, 6,385 square metres of open green space (20% of site area) including a playground, picnic area, landscaped boulevard and parks, a north-facing plaza with cafés, and adaptive reuse of ‘The Loft’ building as 1050 square metres of retail/commercial space.
Construction began in November 2020 with completion expected late 2023.
Seamless coordination between architecture and landscape design teams has produced a highly legible, permeable urban design that honours the rich history of the site – widely acknowledged as the spiritual birthplace of Australian television.
A key point of difference is that amenities are for everyone, not just residents, and are thoughtfully integrated into the ground plane to promote equitable access, visibility and active use.
Residents will enjoy this free amenity at their doorstep, along with the benefits of contemporary ‘sky’ living such as abundant light, air and panoramic views, plus all the advantages of a deeply established Lower North Shore suburb so close to the city.
The layering of three distinct building typologies brings rich architectural diversity, respecting the established character of the suburb while celebrating the benefits of high density.
In the first outer layer, a low-scale series of street buildings have a more solid expression to relate to the finegrain character of the street and to provide modesty to apartment interiors. Street buildings are up to 5 storeys high but use of materiality, form, articulation and modulation help these buildings read as two levels and successfully continue the rhythm of the street.
Next, in a threshold moment, the contained street pattern falls away to a more urban experience, integrating an open public park system with city-skyline view corridors and three contemporary mid-rise towers at the centre. These 10-storey buildings are deeply set in the site to minimise impact on the neighbourhood and take advantage of the views across St Leonards to Sydney. Architecture is a strong and clear expression of scale, rather than shying away from it with over-articulation or modulation.
Finally, organic-formed ‘bush buildings’ sit harmoniously within the natural green context, distinct from the more rectilinear grid of the other two typologies, with planter boxes to soften edges.
Substantial green public domain is woven through the site, comprising a network of parks, garden courtyards and playgrounds designed by international landscape architect McGregor Coxall. Materiality and plantings are designed to reflect the underlying natural landscape and incorporate naturally occurring rock and plant species to create a more grounded, sustainable and robust landscape environment.